Centrifuges / New products

Eppendorf Centrifuges and Sustainability

In 2023, the 5910Ri and 5427R Eppendorf centrifuges became the first centrifuges worldwide to receive the ACT label. The ACT label resembles a nutrition label, showing how products rate in various sustainability categories. The 5427R centrifuge now uses a hydrocarbon cooling liquid, propane, in place of the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to reduce HFCs environmental impact. This blog covers the changes Eppendorf have made to two of their centrifuges to take the next step in becoming more environmentally friendly.

Eppendorf 5427R microcentrifuge with new hydrocarbon cooling
Eppendorf 5427R microcentrifuge with new hydrocarbon cooling

ACT labelling

The ACT labelling considers the following points when evaluating the manufacturer and their products:

  • Accountability
  • Consistency
  • Transparency
  • Manufacturing
  • Energy consumption
  • Water usage
  • Packaging
  • End-of-life disposal

This overview given by ACT labelling provides an easy and intuitive way to evaluate the sustainability of the products. The products are rated and validated on the different Environmental Impact Factors (EIFs) on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the least environmental impact and 10 being the highest.

ACT Environmental Impact Factor logo from My Green Lab Organisation
ACT Environmental Impact Factor logo from My Green Lab Organisation

Eppendorf centrifuges

Eppendorf centrifuge 5910 Ri and 5427 R became the first centrifuges worldwide to receive the ACT label. Eppendorf have considered a variety of factors to reduce their carbon footprint including energy saving, longevity, ergonomics, and cooling liquids.

Energy Saving

There are two main power-consuming steps when using a centrifuge: temperature management of the chamber and acceleration of the rotor. To reduce the power consumption, Eppendorf has introduced some new energy-saving features:

Green energy saving image
Green energy saving concept
  • An eco-shutoff function – switches off the continuous cooling function on the refrigerated models after a period of inactivity (after around 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours) to reduce overall energy consumption and also extend the compressors life
  • Standby function – switches the centrifuge into sleep mode after a defined period of inactivity
  • Reduced weight – fixed-angled rotors on the multipurpose centrifuges, with 50ml conical rotors or larger, are hollow to reduce their weight. The rotors are then easier to handle for users as well as reduces the power consumption during the acceleration step as there is less weight to move
  • Optimised design – most Eppendorf swing-buckets in the multipurpose centrifuges are round instead of rectangular to have lower energy consumption

Longevity and ergonomics

Eppendorf uses high-quality parts and a robust design to ensure years of performance and trouble-free use. They perform long-term stress tests on various functions of their centrifuges, such as lid opening and closing, in their R&D phase to ensure the materials they are using are long-lasting. Some of their centrifuges manufactured in the 60s are still running.

Ergonomics are important when thinking of designs in equipment. Eppendorf has identified some key features for their centrifuges when looking at ergonomics:

  • Intuitive handling
  • Low noise levels
  • Low loading heights
  • Light rotors

Cooling liquids

Refrigerated and cooled centrifuges will use a compressor and a cooling liquid/refrigerant to maintain the temperature required inside the centrifuge for the rotor and samples. The refrigerants commonly used are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are harmful to the environment, to help with this Eppendorf has reduced the amount of HFCs in their centrifuges when possible. Along with this they have developed a new 5427R centrifuge that uses a green cooling liquid – propane. This new model is an updated version of the previous 5427R centrifuge but features a new compressor and additional safety features to ensure smooth usage while using their new green hydrocarbon cooling propane.

Hydrocarbon based cooling refrigerants R170, ethane, and R290, propane.
Hydrocarbon based cooling refrigerants R170, ethane, and R290, propane

Summary

Eppendorf supports My Green Labs mission to be accountable, consistent and transparent to work on reducing the company’s environmental impact. Obtaining an ACT label for two of their centrifuges is the first step in Eppendorf’s sustainability journey, as well as creating new Biobased consumables from a 2nd generation of renewable feedstock. More information on their Biobased tubes can be found here, and more information on their ACT sustainability label can be found here.

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